NOLA public library showcases local music talent


Maleigh Crespo

A student hangs a flyer for Crescent City Sounds in a Loyola studio. The platform looks to bring the music community in New Orleans together. Photo Illustration by Maleigh Crespo/The Maroon

Arianna D'Antonio, Senior Staff Writer

The New Orleans public library created its own streaming platform to promote local musicians, giving artists opportunities to showcase their music and pull the strings of the community together. The platform, Crescent City Sounds, connects members of the New Orleans community with local musician’s work through their own commercial-free streaming.

Joshua Smith, New Orleans public library associate and key curator of Crescent City Sounds, initiated Crescent City Sounds through a conversation with a friend and former colleague, who just set up the streaming platform Electric Ladybird for Austin Public Library. Now, Crescent City Sounds has a number of curators who look for local artists to inspire a new generation of music.

“I thought it was awesome and something that we definitely needed in New Orleans,” Smith said. “It took a couple of years of pitching it to anyone who would listen, but I eventually got the ok to start the process at New Orleans public library.”

After getting approval, Smith and other curators started meeting with the folks at Rabble, the company that builds Musicat, which is the platform Crescent City Sounds runs on. After these preliminary meetings, Smith said it was time to set a date and start approaching people from the local music world to act as curators. Then the curators began collecting music from the public, making their selections, and publishing the music, Smith said.

Kaye the Beast, a current Crescent City Sounds artist, heard buzz through the music community grapevine about Crescent City Sounds, and said he thought it was a great idea.

“Local music can get lost in the shuffle because there are so many talented artists at different points in their careers and that means different levels of visibility for each,” he said. “It’s cool to have a place where we all can be found.”

Kaye the Beast then decided to submit his work, and said the rest was history.

“I’ve been on there for a little under a year, and it has brought notoriety as well as some bragging rights, since I was one of the first 20 or so artists to join the platform,” Kaye said.

Kiefer “Kidnap” Napolitano, another independent artist on the platform, said his job is to make sure his art reaches listeners, and Crescent City Sounds provides him with just that.

“I found CCS through an Instagram ad, and shortly after, my friend and fellow New Orleans artist, Alfred Banks, came into 90s Kid’s Closet, a vintage store on Magazine where I’m currently employed, and encouraged me to submit a project for their new streaming service,” Kidnap said.

Kidnap originally submitted his debut project “Gas Petals,” but didn’t know it would be chosen to be one of the first projects available on the platform.

“It’s a great feeling as an independent artist to not only have my work accepted, but also knowing my work is in the ears of the people in the New Orleans community,” he said.

Curator Alison Fernerstock, DJ at WWOZ and local music journalist, emphasized how hard the library is working to make Crescent City Sounds diverse so listeners might discover bands outside their usual taste and support them by attending shows or buying albums.

“There are so many entities and institutions in New Orleans that promote local music: nightclubs, record stores, museums, foundations,” said Fernerstock. “They could potentially help Crescent City Sounds with outreach efforts by using their own networks to make more fans aware it exists.”

Fernerstock said that the platform provides another avenue for people who can’t attend live shows, such as those who might have small children, transportation issues, or mobility challenges.

“Some of these bands might have a song or two played on local radio, like WWOZ or WTUL, but with Crescent City Sounds, a fan can go listen to a whole album as much as they want on their own schedule,” said Fernerstock.

Kate O’Brien, CCS artist known as Beach Angel, finds the music community of New Orleans to be a little disorganized and sees Crescent City Sounds as a means of pulling the music community together.

“My band had just released a single that I wanted to submit, and it got accepted,” she said. “Someone who works there had reached out to me, and they were really passionate about archiving New Orleans artists and having a new streaming service that was free, which I thought was really cool.”

Artists whose work is selected are also offered an honorarium of $250. Beach Angel commended Crescent City Sounds for these cash prizes, and said she wishes the prizes were more universal information because few people knew about them when she submitted.

“We were doing a lot of recording during that time last year, which can be costly and that helped,” she said.

Kaye the Beast highlighted that, compared to larger streaming platforms like SoundCloud and Spotify, Crescent City Sounds has room to grow in order to compete with the likes of these mainstream platforms.

Fernerstock and Smith both said that Crescent City Sounds compensates their artists better than larger streaming platforms like Spotify.

“I was paid for my work, which immediately helped pay off studio time for my future releases. It’s been a huge confidence boost for what’s to come,” Kidnap said.

Local artists can submit their work to Crescent City Sounds on their website